Spirit of Admiralty
Spirit of Admiralty
The 2017 sailing of the race circumnavigates Admiralty Island in two contiguous legs, beginning in Auke Bay the Saturday of Summer Solstice. The first leg begins June 17th at 1030 and proceeds south down Stephen’s Passage, navigating the notoriously fluky winds west and south of Douglas Island.
Sailing around ice bergs, whales, and shifting winds the boats sail south down Stephens Passage until they reach the Brothers. Many Spirit of Admiralty races have been won or lost here. West of the islands the course is shorter, but the narrower passage and close proximity to Admiralty can result in lighter breezes and stronger currents than the east course.
The convergence of Frederick Sound and Stephen’s Passage make incredible fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, but present a different difficulty for the crews. Currents become confused and choppy. Without consistent breeze the sails slat, with strong breeze the chop can become large.
A little island, home to hundreds of Stellar Sea Lions, called Yasha Island is the southernmost point on the course. The mixing of currents, strong winds, and a swell make the rounding of Yasha challenging and exhausting.
After sailing the 120 nautical miles, the first leg ends in Alaska’s very own Shangri-La. Warm Springs Bay, a large sheltered bay with a dock, huge waterfall, and natural hot springs await the weary crews. A short hike leads to picturesque Baranof Lake. On the way, natural pools collect hot spring water next to a raging waterfall. Sailors wash away the fatigue from their weary muscles and bones in these beautiful pools.
After a couple days recuperating from the trials of Leg 1, the crews gear back up and head out for leg 2.
Leg 2 heads north up Chatham Strait. From the light air near Angoon and Peril Strait to strong southerlies, even experienced sailors are challenged by the ever changing conditions. When the southerlies crash into an ebbing tide, the chop can be tremendous.
At the northern end of Chatham Strait, the wind, currents, and three large waterways all converge near Hanus Reef, another place of confused currents and wind. Like the Brothers, races can be won or lost here just based on which side of Chatham a boat takes.
The final turn goes around the oft photographed Pt. Retreat Lighthouse. Boats change sails and head into the home stretch through the busy and whale filled Saginaw channel. The crew begins seeing charter boats, whale watching tours, and pleasure boats as the work their way back to Portland Island and Auke Bay for the finish of one of the most rewarding and difficult sailing races.
There is no question that the challenges of racing this course are not to be taken lightly. Storms can come up quickly on these waters bring with them gale force winds and a nasty chop. But idyllic sailing can be found as well; with sun filled spinnaker runs with an escort of whales, to beautiful reaches with a solstice sunrise.
Any boat over 20 feet in length that meets PIYA Certification requirements can participate. There is a mandatory skippers meeting on June 6, 2017 at 1830 at the Northwind Architects.
Please review all the documents contain in the links below. Your signed entry form and payment must be received two weeks prior to the race. The fee for the race is $75/boat. Vessel inspections by a SEAS representative must be scheduled and completed one week prior to the race. You can contact the race coordinator here.
Registration for the Spirit of Admiralty is open until June 9, 2017. We hope to see you out on the water, trying your skills against the elements and the SEAS fleet in this year’s sailing of the Spirit of Admiralty.
For more information about racing or crewing in this race feel free to contact us.